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Reimagining General Education: A Cornerstone Institute
November 10-11, 2022

In just five years, Purdue University’s Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts program has gone from a model to a movement.

Cornerstone has become an integral part of how Purdue delivers general education requirements, through its gateway sequence, Transformative Texts I and II.  In 2020, it attracted the attention of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Teagle Foundation, who joined forces to replicate the program across higher education. To date, thirty-seven other universities and colleges are currently developing their own programs through the Cornerstone: Learning for Living initiative.

To celebrate the program’s success and reinforce the message and mechanics of building a successful and sustainable general education program, Purdue hosted faculty from 33 of those institutions for Reimagining General Education: A Cornerstone Institute.

“I think Cornerstone is the most important innovation in higher education today. It is low tech and high impact” said Andrew Delbanco, President of the Teagle Foundation and Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies at Columbia University. Teagle has supported Cornerstone since its inception and remains a key partner.

David A. Reingold, the Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts, welcomed Institute attendees saying, “We are proud to see universities like Stanford, Vanderbilt, Tuskegee, and Michigan State replicating our efforts and creating their own Cornerstone-inspired programs.”

Melinda S. Zook, Director of Cornerstone and Germaine Seelye Oesterle Professor of History reflected, “There were Research 1 institutions like Purdue, community colleges, HBCUs, and small liberal arts colleges present.  All of them were interested in transforming the experiences of the entering first-year students.  And at the heart of it all, are transformative texts, having students rediscover themselves and the world through foundational readings.”

One such transformative text, Pride and Prejudice, was the centerpiece of the reception, dinner, and discussion that kicked-off the institute. The guest speaker was Professor Emerita Deborah Nord, the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature at Princeton University. She is the author of At Home in the World: Women Writers and Public Life, from Austen to the Present (2017), winner of the 2018 PROSE Award in Literature from the Association of American Publishers. 

With the Cornerstone program in its sixth year at Purdue, Reingold spoke of the future. “Looking forward, we are energized by the opportunity to expand our efforts at Purdue through partnerships with our new Business School, with its commitment to preparing students to speak well, write well, and interact well.”

Roosevelt Montas, Andrew Delbanco, Deborah Nord, Melinda Zook, David Reingold, Loni Bordoloi Pazich


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